Self Portrait: An Early Attempt

I've been trying to take some occasional self portraits here and there.  Not so much because I think I make an awesome photo model, I feel super self conscious and weird, but I think it's good practice, especially when I have to use my tripod.

This was taken in October/November, before I really knew anything about anything and was just playing around with the camera a lot.  I want to use this to compare more recent and future shots....  looking away from the camera because looking right at the camera felt awkward and uncomfortable (though now I think "what the heck was I supposed to be looking at in this picture????  --real life answer:  anything but the camera... because it's scary).  Actually looking at the camera felt fine, but looking at the images of myself looking at the camera felt really awkward and uncomfortable.  I still need to work on that.


Photography Fears: Setting my own White Balance

I played around with White Balance last night.  I didn't really know what I was doing, but even with that taken into consideration I think I'm on the right track for figuring out how to get a better white balance.  All part of my effort to get my pictures better SOOC.  Though WB is one of the easier adjustments to make on a raw file, but I still think this is a good thing for me to figure out.

These were all taken in my living room at about 9pm, so the only source of light is from our ceiling fan lights... normally all of the pictures would be very yellow.  From what I've read sometimes you can adjust the Kelvin levels on your camera to get a very specific white balance.  As far as I could tell, my camera doesn't have the feature.  So instead I used a picture of our freshly painted and very empty white wall in the living room to customize my WB.  Here we go:

Camera set to Auto WB.  The best option from the presets, but still really really yellow.

With everything else the same, I just used my WB.  It's a lot better, though it probably skews a little too blue now, but it is much truer to the colors in the room.

 Same thing here:  auto WB

 Preset WB

 The main reason I need to figure out the WB is so that all the pictures of the kids htat are taken in the house stop making them look like they have jaundice.

I don't think I would have been able to guess that this was taken inside at 9pm.


Running Update

So I already broke the news on Facebook, but I'll go into a little more detail here...

I've decided not to run the Leesburg 20k this year.  It was a tough call to make.  I've been thinking about it for a few weeks now... I know I'm not ready for it.  But I thought that if I just ignored that, I'd be able to push through and do it anyway.  Unfortunately my body doesn't work that way.  I've been having pain in my left leg (knee and hip) for the last few weeks, I haven't managed to hit 8 miles on my last 3 attempts for various reasons (this week my body just started walking after 5.5 miles-- and there was nothing I could do about it), and time is just not on my side.  Despite starting to run in March, it just wasn't enough time to really prepare.  I'm sure that I could run/walk it.  But I just don't really see the point of that.  I mean, I can walk 12.4 miles today...  it's not very hard, so where's the accomplishment in that?  I really want to be able to run the whole thing, and hopefully finish before they turn the clock off.  And at this point I'm not sure that would happen.  Actually at this point if I keep pushing myself like I have been, I'm pretty sure I'll wind up with either a hip or knee injury and won't be able to run anyway.  Plus then I'll have to go through injury recovery, which I just don't have time for either.  So.........  no 20k this year.  I'm trying not to think of it as quitting, because I really think it's the right decision, but it still feels a little bit like quitting or giving up.  Then again, I'm hoping that leaving this goal unreached will push me to continue working hard so that I can achieve it in the future.

And really it's not like all my hard work has been wasted.  I've improved my running and health so much since I started up again in March.  Actually my shorter distances are getting better and better by the week.  I feel great after 4 miles, and I'm happy with the pace I can maintain for that distance.  Plus I'm getting better and better at my mile too.  I have a feeling I'll be at 9:00 before too long.  So for now I'm going to concentrate on those shorter distances, improving my stride, and getting comfortable running at a quicker pace.  Plus more cross training and strengthening for my weak muscles.

One of the main reasons I even started back up with running was to lose my baby weight.  Mission accomplished as far as that goes...  in fact, I'm even below my pre-Dylan weight at this point... at a number I never thought I'd see again.  I'm back in all my pre-pregnancy clothes (actually all my pre-pregnancy clothes are now too big, but I'm too cheap to buy a new wardrobe-- at least until I've maintained this weight long enough to know it's not going to go back up to my normal weight)  Aside from some aches and strains that come from carrying a baby all year I feel good.

So now what can I do to keep myself running??  Well, I'm still working on that.  I think I'll try and do a 10k towards the end of the summer, that's a much more manageable distance for me.  Plus, our family is supposed to run the Firecracker 5k in Reston on July 4th.  I'm determined to beat my mom this time (she is deceptively fast).  And I still want to hit my goal of a 9 minute mile both on and off the treadmill.  Long term goals-- well I suppose I may as well keep the 20k on the list, along with a half marathon (it's only a tiny bit further).

But in the meantime I'm just going to take things little by little.  I'll get there eventually.


Aaron at One: Playing in the Living Room

We spend a good amount of our time playing in the living room.  On this particular day Dylan and Matt had gone out to a baseball game so it was just me and Aaron for the evening.  Nothing significant happened, but I wanted to grab a few shots not just of him doing his typical one year old thing, but of me playing with him (which was hard because I couldn't really see where the frame was, and I used my 50mm, so a lot of the shots didn't turn out...  A wide angle lens is on the top of my "next to purchase" list) Moms need to be photographed too. :)

This nice clean space won't last long.

 Playing with Woofie and some trucks.

 It gets messy quickly.

Now time to cruise up and down the couch.

Going back for round two... got a little distracted by the library book.

Sizing up his course.

Look at that happiness :)

 Happy to catch mom!

Aaron's new favorite place to play is on the fireplace.  He is not supposed to be doing this, but I haven't figured out a way to stop it yet... other than to pick him up and plop him down across the room and hope something distracts him before he remembers to climb right back up there.



A couple random things going through my head:

First- The house is currently getting repainted.  No more dark pink and dark yellow walls for us!  I'm so excited to see how much bigger and brighter the house will look once it's done.  We're also having our bedroom painted since it was still the builder's white (despite the house being 15+ years old).  We got a great deal from a company and even though Matt is fully capable of painting the house, I decided to hire them.  He just doesn't need to take time off work to do this, and this way it will be done in 2 days.  Although that means I'm stuck in the basement with the kids for 2 days.  But this is probably far less painful that a slow ongoing process of trying to do the work ourselves.

Second- While we were waiting for the painters today Matt and I were talking about random vacation-y things.  Two ideas came up kind of in passing....  and I'm holding Matt to them.  We both said that it would be fun to take a big vacation without the kids (once they are a little older)... to Europe (my pick) and Japan (Matt's pick).  Both sound wonderful to me...  Though I'm a little nervous about the Japan one because it's SOOO foreign (unlike Europe since I've lived and travelled there a lot, but I'd like to go back and experience it as an adult)

Next- Aaron is such a typical second child.  He climbs EVERYTHING.  And rather than freak out too much about that, I've been trying to teach him how to climb down off of things (feet first, not head first), which he is getting much much better at (case in point- I'm currently watching him climb on and off the treadmill, no falls so far).  He also doesn't really freak out over minor bumps and falls, which is very opposite of Dylan.

Last- A quick update for anyone who read my post several weeks ago...  Aaron and Dylan had their weight check this week and they both gained a good amount of weight.  Dylan gained as much in the last 2 months as he did all of last year, and Aaron is nearly back on his previous curve.  I think the most effective habit we changed was switching to smaller more frequent meals.  Oh, and Dylan learned that he really likes butter on things like toast and veggies.  While we were there the nurse also checked  Aaron's iron levels and those are in a good range finally (thank you iron supplements).  Yay!


Dylan at Five: Piano Lessons

Last week Dylan started piano lesson.  I'm not his teacher... instead he's being taught by my longtime piano student for the summer.  I figured this would make the lessons more fun for Dylan and I also think it's a great learning experience for my piano student.  And so far Dylan really loves it.  He's so excited to practice his songs that sometimes I have to stop him from playing (usually because someone is sleeping).  But he's doing a great job so far.  I hope he keeps up with it, I enjoy sharing this part of my life with him...  kind of like Matt does with baseball.  But if he winds up not liking it, that's fine too.  I just figured that since he has a piano teacher for a mom I should probably at least give him an opportunity to learn.

Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart watch on.

Working on his steady beats.

Love the fading tatoo on his hand while he practice.

Taking after mom... he loves the theory book.

Good hand position.

Aaron wanted in on the fun... a brotherly duet.


Arts and Library stuff revisited

I'm currently creating a metadata keyword scheme for my photo library.  It is re-awakening all sorts of memories from my library school/art library days.  For reasons such as this...

While googling to find examples of keyword schemes (because I don't want to have to redo mine in the future when I find "a better way") I was eventually directed to the Library of Congress's Thesaurus for Graphic Materials:  Subject Terms page.  It is definitely informative although waaaaaay more comprehensive than I need to be for my little photo library.  But it's still fun to read, and i honestly dont think I've even been on the LOC website since I graduated.  However, I stumbled upon this, and I have to say that it is SOOOO far off from what abstract art is, that I'm a little annoyed.  (This isn't meant to be their definitive definition, its just mentioned in part of the write up that talks about how to decide what is in an image):   "The most obvious exceptions are abstract works of art which depict different things in the eyes of different viewers."  First off, doesn't all art?  Secondly, it's wrong.

Not surprisingly the Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus has a much better definition:  "In the strictest sense, the term refers to 20th-century Western painting, sculpture, or graphic art that does not include forms that represent objects from the visible world. The term is sometimes applied to art in which natural forms are only simplified or changed in their representation, but not eliminated entirely."

Also the Getty AAT website has not changed one bit since I was in the Art library world.  I love their hierarchy feature for terms, so I'm going to go back to playing with that.  Nerdiness done for now.


Aaron at One: Sleeping

It's hard to capture this.  Mostly because I don't want to wake him up with my camera noise, but also because he usually sleeps in a very dark room, even for naps.  But the other day he missed a nap and then we had to go out.  By the time we got to our destination, he was, of course, asleep.  I had my camera with me and took advantage of the situation.


Happy #floralfriday

A few weeks ago I got talked into joining G+ for photo sharing.  And I am really glad I did.  It's so fun to look at everyone's photography.  Some of the people who participate are AMAZING.  I also like that there are ongoing photo prompts that even an amateur like me can participate in.  All in good fun.  At the moment I'm only really active in 3 things:  the food photography community, #macromonday, and #floralfriday.   I'm so happy to have photoshop up and running so I can make finishing touches on my photos before I share them.

My real favorite is Friday because everyone posts their flower pictures.  I love looking through all of them because it's fun and seeing all the beautiful flowers makes me happy!  And also I love getting ideas for new ways to shoot flowers.

So in the spirit of Floral Friday, here are a few of my favorites...

Happy #floralfriday!


9 Year Anniversary

Matt and I have been married for 9 years today.  NINE years.  That's a long time, and I feel like it puts us in a new phase of our relationship... not sure what it's called, I wouldn't say we're an "old married couple"  I think we need many more years before we can take that label (I'm looking forward to it), but we are definitely in some new part of our lives.  Maybe it should just be called the Parents-of-Little-Ones phase.  It is probably hardest and also most rewarding part of our relationship yet.  Since this momentous occasion occurred on a Wednesday, we didn't do much to celebrate today.  In fact, we aren't really occasion-celebraters, but an anniversary is a good way to guilt out a babysitter, so we are taking advantage of that and going out on Friday :)  I think we'll have dinner and see a movie.  I remember at the beginning of our marriage when that was just a regular thing... now it's a special event.  Something we haven't done since.... well, since the night before Aaron was born actually (we saw Avengers).

But since it was our anniversary we made a special effort to spend some time together.  Matt had a softball game with work today, so I brought the kids down.  Dylan loved it (of course), Aaron lasted a good while, but then I decided to take him home before the games were over so he could go to bed.  I tried to get a few shots of Matt while he played, it's was tough because I was also watching the kids and there was a chain link fence around the entire softball field (and we were the only spectators, so I was trying not to be too distracting).  Here we go...